Vitali Suspended One Year After Meth Positive In Pennsylvania; Appeal Ongoing - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Vitali Suspended One Year After Meth Positive In Pennsylvania; Appeal Ongoing

Trainer Marcus Vitali

Controversial trainer Marcus Vitali has been handed a one-year suspension and a $10,000 fine after one of his horses tested positive for d-methamphetamine. Single Lady, conditioned by Vitali for long-time client Crossed Sabres Farm, received the positive test after winning a maiden special weight contest at Presque Isle Downs on Aug. 26, 2021. The horse, who has since moved to Turf Paradise with Vitali's string, has been disqualified from that race.

According to rulings posted in the Pennsylvania Racing Commission's database, Vitali requested a split sample test via the UIC Analytical Forensic Testing Laboratory, which came back positive in late December.

On Jan. 27, stewards issued a year-long suspension scheduled to start on Feb. 15, a $10,000 fine, and six multiple medication violation penalty points. Vitali is appealing that ruling.

Also on Jan. 27, stewards issued a $500 fine to Vitali after the discovery of medication without a prescription at Presque Isle on Oct. 6, 2021. According to that ruling, Vitali was in possession of Dr. Burch's 40 Equi-Dyne and Dr. Burch's 6 Windy, both of which included labeling stating that they were “for veterinarian use only” and which had no prescription labels on the bottles.

According to labeling for the product Dr. Burch's 6 Windy, the product is produced by Drs. Burch and Burch, which shares a mailing address with racetrack practitioner Dr. George Burch. Burch had previously done work for Vitali when the latter trained in Florida in 2013. Burch's name came up in the course of an animal cruelty complaint filed against Vitali in 2013 by a Florida racing manager. The racing manager claimed a horse off Vitali and later said Vitali told him afterwards the horse had been diagnosed with a slab fracture prior to being entered to race, and provided the racing manager with radiographs taken by Burch. Vitali said at the time Burch took the radiographs but did not review the results with him. The complaint was closed for insufficient evidence.

Vitali has a lengthy history of run-ins with regulators over drug and other issues. He relinquished his training license in Florida in 2016 after racking up seven drug violations in a four-month span, temporarily evading suspension. He left for the Mid-Atlantic, where he accumulated another positive, and eventually went back to Florida in an attempt to reacquire his license. Before he was relicensed, a Paulick Report investigation revealed he was regularly entering the Gulfstream Park backstretch on a visitor's pass and appeared to be training horses, although his attorney denied that he was training without a license. Vitali was later barred from properties owned by The Stronach Group and from Tampa Bay Downs for alleged paper training. In 2019, he was given a one-year suspension in Delaware after officials said he interfered with a search of an employee's dorm room and absconded with a vial of an unknown substance which was never recovered. In 2020, Vitali was implicated by officials at the Maryland Jockey Club in a scheme to have fellow trainer Wayne Potts serve as paper trainer for Vitali-trained horses entered at Stronach-owned Laurel Park.

In 2021, he started horses at Presque Isle, Turf Paradise, Finger Lakes, Lone Star Park, and a lone runner at Saratoga.

In March, the New York Racing Association is scheduled to hold a hearing to determine whether it will revoke or suspend his ability to enter horses at its facilities.

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